It has been an exceptional summer in Alaska chock full of warm sunny days. We took the opportunity on a gorgeous June day to get out on a Chugach classic and produce some new work. The feature known locally as Penguin Ridge towers above Turnagain Arm, extending unbroken from the craggy Penguin Peak for a dozen miles of the Seward Highway. A scrappy route traces the ridge crest 4,000-feet above the Cook Inlet coastline, turning several sub-peaks and traversing a couple narrow cat-walk sections between trailheads in Girdwood and Bird Creek. Our 16-mile day began seeking out flagging on the overgrown ‘trail’ up California Creek. Actually our hike began at noon in order to better match the final leg of the ridge with evening light. A straight up 4,000-foot climb topped us out in the alpine tundra and our first view of the serpentine ridge weaving it’s way into the distance. Eight hours of wildflower meadows, half-frozen tarns, and numerous thousand foot choss piles brought us to the top of Penguin Peak just as the shadows were getting long. We stayed high for a couple hours more until the sun finally set behind neighboring mountains. The ensuing mad dash to our car through the mosquito low lands became a bit desperate, but it sure was nice of the Brown Bear Saloon to fire up the grill for a couple cheeseburgers at Midnight.
If you’re in Southcentral Alaska, this hike is a must do. If you’re not in SCAK this summer, then you have bigger problems ; )
Matt & Agnes